Eating a nutritious breakfast is important for starting your day off right and providing your body with the fuel it needs. However, finding a healthy breakfast option when you’re on the go can be challenging. For those times when you’re in a rush and need to grab something quick, is it possible to make a healthy choice at McDonald’s? What is truly the healthiest breakfast item on the McDonald’s menu?
Evaluating Healthy Breakfast Options at McDonald’s
When considering the healthiest breakfast items at McDonald’s, there are a few key factors to evaluate:
Calories and Macronutrients
Aim for breakfast items with less than 300-400 calories. Watch out for items high in fat, saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. Focus on getting ample protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates to keep you feeling full and energized.
Ingredients and Food Groups
Look for ingredients like whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, eggs, yogurt, etc. Avoid highly processed ingredients. Try to get multiple food groups into your breakfast like fruit, whole grains, protein, and dairy.
Pay attention to portion sizes, as breakfast sandwiches and meals can pack nearly a full day’s worth of calories into one serving. Opt for lighter, sensible portions or split larger items.
See if you can customize or substitute ingredients to make an item healthier, like getting egg whites instead of whole eggs, opting for whole grain bread, or adding extra veggies.
The Top Healthiest McDonald’s Breakfast Options
Based on these criteria, these are some of the healthier breakfast choices available at McDonald’s:
Egg White Delight McMuffin
The Egg White Delight McMuffin is a great option coming in at only 250 calories. It has lean protein from the 100% egg whites and calcium from the white cheddar cheese slice. The English muffin provides grains and carbs. You can make it healthier by requesting no cheese and no butter on the English muffin.
Fruit & Maple Oatmeal
A bowl of oatmeal makes for a warm, satisfying breakfast. McDonald’s version has 250 calories and provides 6g of fiber. Top it with fruit like blueberries, strawberries, or bananas from their Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait for added nutrients and flavor. Avoid added sugar and brown sugar packets.
Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait
The Fruit ‘N Yogurt parfait has 150 calories and is a lighter breakfast choice. It contains low-fat vanilla yogurt, strawberries, and blueberries, giving you protein, calcium, antioxidants, and fiber. The granola adds unnecessary calories and sugar, so you can ask for it without or eat it from the fruit only.
While not the lowest in calories at 300, the Egg McMuffin makes the list for its balance of protein, carbs, and fat. The eggs and Canadian bacon provide protein, the English muffin gives you carbs and fiber, and the real butter adds beneficial fats. To make it healthier, get it without cheese and add veggies.
When eaten in moderation, the standard small McDonald’s hash browns can round out your breakfast with 150 calories and 2g of fiber. Avoid the larger portions or fried additions like cheese and bacon. Ask for your hash browns well-done to get them extra crispy!
Skip the doughnuts and pastries and try these warm cinnamon rolls. One package has 150 calories and provides sweet flavor along with whole wheat flour. Stick to one packet and avoid frosted varieties or sugary dipping sauces.
McCafe Breakfast Sandwich
A veggie breakfast sandwich from the McCafe is lower in calories than traditional sausage or bacon options. Opt for egg white or even just vegetables and cheese on an English muffin for around 300 calories. You can also add spinach, tomatoes or other veggies.
Healthy Substitutions to Customize Your Order
Some easy food swaps can help you create an even healthier McDonald’s breakfast from their existing menu options:
– Egg whites or egg beaters instead of whole eggs
– Canadian bacon instead of sausage or bacon
– Honey or fruit spreads instead of butter on breads or biscuits
– Whole grain muffin or biscuit instead of white
– Low-fat yogurt or milk instead of full-fat dairy
– Unsweetened coffee instead of sugar-filled coffee drinks
– Sliced apples instead of hash browns
Keep portion sizes in check by ordering small or child-sized options. Skip the sugary cereals, juices, and desserts and stick to water, milk, or coffee for your beverage.
Healthier Alternatives to McDonald’s Breakfast
While McDonald’s does offer some healthier breakfast options, you may want to seek out alternatives if you eat breakfast there frequently:
Preparing your own simple breakfast at home using fresh, whole foods gives you full control over ingredients and portions. Quick options include oatmeal, yogurt with fruit, whole grain toast, hard boiled eggs, and smoothies. Meal prep a few days in advance to grab and go in the morning.
Local Restaurants or Cafes
Many local restaurants and cafes offer nourishing breakfast options like veggie scrambles, breakfast bowls, avocado toast, and cottage cheese pancakes. You can find healthy dishes at diners, cafes, fast casual spots, and even coffee shops.
Fast Casual Chains
Fast casual chains like Panera Bread, Einstein Bros, or Peet’s Coffee have healthier breakfast sandwiches, oatmeal, and yogurt parfaits using high quality ingredients and less processed foods. Grab breakfast on the way to work from one of these spots.
On the Go Alternatives
When on the go, bring portable items like hard boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, nut butter packets, protein bars, or fruit and nut trail mix. They provide lasting energy and nutrients without excess sugar or fat. You can easily eat these breakfasts during your commute.
Meal Delivery or Pre-Made Meals
Try meal delivery kits or pre-made meals from grocery stores and companies like Territory Foods. You can quickly heat up a prepared egg scramble, breakfast bowl, or wrap in the morning that’s tasty and nourishing.
Tips for Ordering the Healthiest McDonald’s Breakfast
Use these tips when ordering breakfast from McDonald’s to customize a healthier meal:
– Request egg whites or egg substitutes instead of whole eggs in sandwiches
– Get a vegetable-based sandwich with no meat and no cheese
– Add extra veggies like tomatoes, spinach, and onions to sandwiches
– Order dry English muffins and biscuits instead of those with butter
– Choose fruits or low-fat yogurt as sides instead of hash browns
– Ask for sauces, dressings and condiments on the side to control the amount
– Skip sugary additions like chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, or whipped cream on coffee drinks
– Opt for unsweetened coffee and tea over sweetened varieties
– Split or share larger sandwiches or meals with a friend to control portions
– Take half the sandwich or meal home for later to prevent overeating
Healthiest McDonald’s Breakfast Combinations
Get creative and combine healthier McDonald’s menu items for a satisfying breakfast:
Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait + Egg White Delight McMuffin
Balances carbs, protein, fiber
Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait + Hotcakes with Syrup
Mix of fruit, dairy, and whole grains
Egg McMuffin ‘Fresstyle’ + Hash Browns
Protein and fiber without cheese or meat
Cinnamon Melts + McCafe Latte
Whole grains with caffeinated beverage
Egg White Delight McMuffin + Multigrain Oatmeal
Lean protein and complex carbs
Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait + Hotcakes No Syrup
Low sugar mix of dairy, fruit and carbs
Lowest Calorie McDonald’s Breakfasts
To keep your breakfast under 300 calories, consider these light McDonald’s options:
– Egg White Delight McMuffin (250 calories without cheese)
– Fruit & Maple Oatmeal (250 calories without brown sugar)
– Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait (150 calories)
– Cinnamon Melts (150 calories for 1 pack)
– Hash Browns (150 calories for small)
– Egg McMuffin ‘Fresstyle’ (170 calories no meat/cheese)
– English Muffin (120 calories)
– Multigrain Oatmeal (160 calories)
– McCafe Cappuccino (90 calories for small)
– McCafe Latte (120 calories for small)
High Protein McDonald’s Breakfasts
If you’re looking to pack in the protein, these are some of the top options with at least 15g protein:
– Egg White Delight McMuffin (18g protein)
– Sausage McMuffin with Egg Whites (19g protein)
– Egg McMuffin (18g protein)
– Steak, Egg & Cheese McMuffin (19g protein)
– Bacon, Egg & Cheese McMuffin (19g protein)
– Sausage McMuffin (14g protein)
– Sausage Burrito (15g protein)
– Fruit & Maple Oatmeal (7g protein + milk 4g)
– Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait (11g protein)
Low Carb McDonald’s Breakfasts
Limit carbs at breakfast with these picks under 30g net carbs:
– Bacon, Egg & Cheese McGriddles (25g carbs)
– Sausage McMuffin (23g carbs)
– Egg McMuffin (24g carbs)
– Steak, Egg & Cheese McMuffin (27g carbs)
– Sausage Burrito (13g net carbs)
– Egg White Delight McMuffin (24g carbs)
– Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit (26g carbs)
– Sausage Biscuit (22g carbs)
– Sausage McMuffin with Egg Whites (25g carbs)
While McDonald’s may not be the pinnacle of healthy eating, with some modifications you can create a pretty balanced breakfast under 400 calories. Focus on options that provide protein, fiber, and nutrients without too much added sugar. The Egg White Delight McMuffin, Fruit & Maple Oatmeal, and Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait are smart choices. Pair items together or use customizations and substitutions to boost nutrition. With careful ordering, even fast food breakfast can give you the right start to your morning.